It’s Time to Reimagine Health Care

It’s Time to Reimagine Health Care
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The COVID-19 crisis is exposing a tragic reality. There are serious problems with America’s health care system that are standing in the way of doctors, nurses, and medical researchers helping people and saving more lives.

Outdated laws and restrictions inhibit the ability of innovators and health experts to slow the spread of coronavirus or provide life-saving medical treatment — limiting the availability of surgical and N95 masks, preventing qualified doctors and nurses from treating more patients, causing severe shortages of life-saving equipment, and much more.

Rather than continue down the same path, now is the time for us to reimagine health care.

Over the last several weeks, we have watched in real time as federal restrictions have impeded our ability to produce enough coronavirus test kits, while FDA regulations prevented distillers from changing over their operations to produce hand sanitizer to help keep up with demand.

Doctor shortages exacerbated by occupational licensing restrictions are hindering care for individuals in many states, while hospitals don’t have enough beds or live-saving equipment as a result of restrictive certificate-of-need laws.

Across the world, we are seeing similar scenarios play out in the United Kingdom, where ventilators are in short supply; in Italy, where doctor shortages and hospital overcrowding is rampant; and in France, where Paris hospitals are having to send patients to neighboring countries for care.

Meanwhile, our long-running debates on health care policy miss the point.

Proposals like Medicare-for-All and the public option simply expand the current system and so would only double down on the failures that we see today which tie the hands of patients and caregivers. They don’t fix the problems the pandemic has revealed. 

But thanks to courageous lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats who have made good decisions in response to the COVID crisis, we are starting to get a glimpse of what’s possible when America’s health care system is opened up to innovation.

After the FDA lifted restrictions that slowed approval for new uses of drugs that had already proven to be safe, innovators began making promising new drugs available faster. As governors across the country made sensible changes to occupational licenses and certificate-of-need regulations, doctors and nurses could see more patients and hospitals were better situated to provide more beds and bring in new equipment for additional medical staff. 

Expanding telehealth gave providers more flexibility to work across borders and increase patients’ options for care. Now patients are able to see a doctor without risking exposure from a physical visit to the doctors’ office. Likewise, expanding the scope of practice for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses gave providers, like nurse practitioners, the chance to use the full extent of their medical training to give more patients access to quality care.

These temporary changes are saving people’s lives right now. If we make them permanent, they’ll save people’s lives every day and we’ll be better prepared for the next crisis as well.

A vast number of Americans already share in this same sentiment.

Tim Phillips is the president of Americans for Prosperity.

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